Peloton addresses backlash over holiday ad, saying spot was 'misinterpreted'

Twitter users dragged the commercial, calling it "creepy," "disturbing," and "cringeworthy," with some implying it was sexist and classist.

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By Elisha Fieldstadt

Following a wave of social media mockery that erupted over a "cringeworthy" Peloton advertisement, the company said in a statement that it was "disappointed" its holiday commercial had been "misinterpreted."

“We constantly hear from our members how their lives have been meaningfully and positively impacted after purchasing or being gifted a Peloton Bike or Tread, often in ways that surprise them,” a Peloton spokesperson said in a statement to CNBC.

“Our holiday spot was created to celebrate that fitness and wellness journey. While we’re disappointed in how some have misinterpreted this commercial, we are encouraged by — and grateful for — the outpouring of support we’ve received from those who understand what we were trying to communicate.”

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Along with the statement, Peloton emailed CNBC documents of praise that the company had received about the ad, along with one Facebook post in support of the commercial.

The ad, which first ran Nov. 4 but went viral Monday, features a fit woman who is gifted a Peloton stationary bike by her husband.

The commercial, set to the song "She's So High," shows the woman video-documenting her year with the bike, as she evolves from seemingly terrified to mount the bike to surprised she's using it to thrilled that she squeezed in a 6 a.m. workout. "That was totally worth it," she says.

At the end of the ad, titled "The Gift That Gives Back," she watches her self-recordings with her husband, and at the end remarks: "I didn't realize how much this would change me."

Twitter users dragged the commercial, calling it "creepy," "disturbing," and "cringeworthy," with some implying it was sexist and classist.

Peloton, which also sells treadmills, offers the bike for $2,245, and the monthly class membership fee is $39.

"The lady in the peloton ad is already toned and fit in the 'before' part, making it very hard to believe she would be nervous about a basic spin class. (tho that's probably the least weird thing about the ad)," one person wrote.

"Nothing says 'maybe you should lose a few pounds' like gifting your already rail thin life partner a Peloton," another remarked.

A few people defended the ad. "I don’t get the outrage for the @onepeloton ad. Many reasons people work out like stress-reduction & mental health. Endorphins!" a marketing consultant wrote on Twitter. "What’s the issue?"

NBC News’ parent company Comcast is an investor in Peloton.